2009 Honda DN-01 - Motorcycle Consumer News

2009 Honda DN-01 - Motorcycle Consumer News
Model Evaluation
2009
Honda
DN-01
Technical Genius
or
Marketing Hype?
by Scott Rousseau
a run without the HFT catching an upshift. By
way of comparison, the Aprilia Mana 850, as of
now the only other motorcycle in this new fully
automatic category, made 53.6 hp @ 8000 rpm
and 38.76 lb.-ft. of torque at 5800rpm. Granted,
the Mana boasts 160cc more displacementthan
the DN-01, so a qualitative apples-to-apples
comparison isn’t really warranted. The point to
be made here is that the constantly variable
transmissions used in the DN-01 and the Mana
are so efficient at transferring power to the rear
wheel that they don’t require superbike-style
horsepower numbers to bolster their fun factor.
Despite its hefty 602.5-lb. wet weight, the DN01 feels faster than it is, its power delivery, like
its transmission, coming off as very fluid in its
performance. The DN-01 scooted past our
radar gun with a top speed of 113.1 mph, went
from 0-60 mph in 7.41 seconds and posted a
best quarter mile time of 15.41 seconds at
87.42 mph. Those numbers are comparable to
Honda Shadow 750s that we’ve tested. Cruiserlike, indeed.
Transmission
I
N MOTORCYCLING, BETTER ideas don’t always pan out. Motor-
cyclists, often creatures of habit and brand-loyal to the bone,
will initially bristle at their first glance of cutting-edge alternative technology, but sometimes even the best ideas can be rejected
for being too complex or too expensive to be worth making a
switch. The James Parker-designed RADD (Rationally Advanced
Design Development) front suspension system that graced the
1993 Yamaha GTS1000 sport tourer immediately comes to mind
as one such example. A technological revolution, the RADD was
a spark of genius that failed to catch fire in the marketplace.
Yamaha dropped the slow-selling GTS after 1996, and mainstream
motorcycle manufacturers continued to evolve the telescopic fork,
a BMW design that first appeared on the 1935 R16 and R17 but
didn’t come into vogue until the late ’40s and early ’50s. Ironically,
BMW’s current seminal models eschew the telescopic system in
favor of its unique Telelever and now Duolever technology.
Surely, Honda is hoping that the same fate does not await the
revolutionary HFT (Human Friendly Transmission) technology in
its jaw-dropping DN-01, a vehicle designed to incorporate the
convenience of a scooter with the performance of a full-sized
motorcycle. First unveiled at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, the
DN-01—it stands for “Dream New Concept 1”—was sold in
Europe in 2008. For 2009, the DN-01 has come to America.
Engine
When considering the necessary engine requirements for the
DN-01, Honda engineers quickly settled upon a V-twin configuration, citing its popularity with sportbike and cruiser riders
alike. The DN-01 utilizes a 52° SOHC four-valve 680cc engine
architecture that currently powers its Euro-only XL700V Transalp
and employs Honda’s PGM-FI fuel-injection. Twin 40mm throttle bodies with 12-hole injectors feed the engine, which is fired
by a digital ignition. Among its many functions, the ECU controls
the DN-01’s closed-loop emissions system. On the dyno, the
engine is no powerhouse, cranking out 43.3 hp @ 7300 rpm and
33.61 lb.-ft. of torque @ 6100 rpm, numbers that hardly trumpet
any sporting intentions—despite the fact that these numbers were
attained while the transmission was in Sport mode, one of three
driving modes available in the HFT and the only mode in which
we could secure a working “fourth gear” long enough to record
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JUNE 2009
●
MOTORCYCLE CONSUMER NEWS
Honda’s HFT is unlike any other transmission in motorcycling
today, even the Aprilia Mana’s electronic CVT. The HFT uses no
belts or clutches to transmit power to the driveshaft. It’s a hydromechanical drive that consists of a hydraulic pump and motor
inside the same housing. Power is fed from the engine to an angled
plate in the pump, known as a swash plate, which contacts the
heads of pistons that stroke up and down inside a cylinder block—
envision it as appearing similar to the cylinder of a revolver. As the
swash plate rotates, the pistons move in and out of the cylinder
block, which is fixed in position, and the pistons pump hydraulic
fluid—or in the case of the DN-01, engine oil—out of the pump
cylinder block through a timed distributor valve and into the cylinder block on the hydraulic motor. Unlike the pump side, the pistons in the cylinder block on the motor side run against a variable
angle swash plate. The motor side cylinder block, which is connected to the output shaft, also rotates as the pistons fill and then
empty of pressurized fluid from the pump side. The angle of the
motor side swash plate is what determines the “gear ratio” being
fed to the output shaft until it becomes perpendicular to the drive
axis of the cylinder block after the DN-01 has accelerated to the
desired speed. At that point, a perfect 1:1 coupling is achieved
with the DN-01’s 2.833 final drive and any excess oil pressure in
the loop is bled off via a complex valve system in the motor-side
cylinder block.
In short, the HFT is infinitely variable and keeps the DN-01
operating at maximum efficiency regardless of engine rpm. Thus,
it can never be in the wrong gear.
When used in either the Drive mode or Sport mode, the HFT
makes the DN-01 feel and operate like a scooter as it upshifts and
downshifts seamlessly. However, when used in Manual mode the
DN-01 is very motorcycle-like. Its engine rpm drops minutely
when the rider rolls off the throttle and uses the +/- shift button
located on the left handlebar for upshifts (although full-throttle
upshifts are no problem at all). The Manual mode’s gear ratios
from first through sixth gear are fixed, meaning that you can hold
one gear, over-rev and bump the rev limiter, same as you could
with a mechanical transmission. However, even in manual mode,
while you can downshift to scrub speed as you approach a stoplight, downshifting is not required to return the HFT to first gear.
You can simply come to a stop, and the ECU downshifts back to
first gear for you. Conversely, the ECU will not let you upshift or
downshift too soon. Also, unlike a scooter, the DN-01 will simulate off-throttle engine braking in all three driving modes.
Chassis & Suspension
Just as the DN-01’s drivetrain is a cross between a scooter and
a motorcycle, its double-cradle steel chassis is a cross between a
cruiser and a sportbike. Its 63.2" wheelbase is definitely on the
lengthy side, and its 28.5° rake and 4.33" trail suggest handling that
favors stability over razor-sharp agility. Its 27.25" seat height and
forward-mounted floorboards are also of cruising lineage, and yet
its swoopy styling, single-sided swingarm, five-spoke wheels and
sportbike-sized Bridgestone Battlax radials tell another story.
Compared to the techno-trickery of its HFT, the DN-01’s suspension is rather mundane. Up front, 41mm conventional forks
offer 4.2" of travel but offer no preload, compression or rebound
adjustment. In the rear, a seven-position preload adjustable shock
is mated to one of Honda’s race-inspired Pro Arm swingarms.
The rear suspension does not employ rising rate linkage. Rear
wheel travel is 4.5".
Despite its length and comfortable seating position, the
DN-01’s handling is more sport bike than cruiser. An extremely
low CofG makes the DN-01
extremely flickable in the turns. Front
end feedback is fantastic and confidence-inspiring. The DN-01’s floorboards are the only limiting factor in
its carving ability. While there is quite
an amount of lean angle available
before they scrape the pavement, they
inevitably do during spirited jaunts.
The DN-01’s suspension performance also receives high marks for
all but the most aggressive riding.
Designed primarily for urban environments, it offers a smooth and supple ride. When pushed to the limits
by ace tester Danny Coe, however,
we learned that the rear shock could use more compression and
rebound damping.
Brakes & Wheels
Braking is another area where some of Honda’s technological
advancements make an appearance on the DN-01, in the form of
Honda’s Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Combined Braking System (CBS). Dual full-floating 296mm discs with three piston calipers ride up front, while a single 276mm disc is clamped
by a Pro Arm-mounted two-piston caliper in the rear. When only
the front brake is applied, the system acts as a normal ABS system
would, with the ECU monitoring wheel speed and vehicle speed.
If the ECU senses that the brakes are about to lock up, it sends signals to electric motor-driven modulators for each wheel that almost
instantaneously reduce hydraulic pressure on the calipers to prevent a skid. When the wheel speed once again approaches vehicle
speed, the hydraulic pressure is restored. This can happen several
times per second in an attempt to ensure optimal braking force at
all times.
The CBS system is a smarter version of the linked braking system found on previous Honda touring and sport touring models.
Applying the front brake only on the DN-01 will result in normal
ABS-assisted braking only at the front calipers, but when the rear
brake is applied, the CBS applies hydraulic pressure to the center
piston of each front caliper only, leaving the two outer pistons on
each side to function with input only from the front brake lever.
This is similar to the CABS found on the 2009 Honda CBR600RR.
During testing, Coe achieved a best stopping distance of 124'
after figuring out exactly how much lever pressure to use to keep
the ABS from activating. We recorded several normal ABS-controlled stops in the 127' range.
The DN-01 employs 17", U-section five-spoke cast alloy wheels
wrapped in Bridgestone Battlax BTO 21 radials, a 130/70 ZR17
in the front and a 190/50 ZR17 in the rear. The Bridgestones contribute to the DN-01’s sure-footed feel under braking and when
hustling through the turns.
Controls & Instruments
The HFT means that there is no need for a clutch lever or a
foot-operated shift lever, but shift buttons are mounted on both
handlebars. The one just below the on-off switch on the throttle
side is used to place the DN-01 into Drive mode, while a forefinger-operated trigger located on the front of the throttle-side
switchgear housing moves the HFT Manual mode. A gray switch
just outboard of the high/low beam headlight switch on the left
switchgear housing is used to toggle the HFT between the Drive
and Sport modes, but when in Manual mode, the same button
becomes the shifter. The DN-01 also features a hand-operated
parking brake to hold it in place when parked, as its lack of a
manual, mechanical transmission
means that the bike is always in
free-wheel mode when the engine is
shut off.
The DN-01’s backlit LCD instrumentation includes a multi-segment,
bar graph-style tachometer and a
digital speedometer with an odometer and dual tripmeters and a sixsegment fuel gauge. A selector
button and reset button are located
on the face of the instrument panel,
but the dash’s far-away location
underneath the low-angled windscreen makes using them on the fly
a difficult proposition.
Bottom Line
Initially, our impression of the DN-01 was very favorable.
Around town, we appreciated its zippy performance, userfriendly transmission technology, comfortable riding position
and the fact that the bike’s styling seemed to catch the eye of
every other motorcyclist on the road. However, as time wore on,
we had a few issues with the bike, such as the fact that for a
machine designed with such high functionality in mind it offers
no storage whatsoever, or the fact that on sustained freeway rides
the lack of wind protection and low handlebar cause you to strain
against the wind blast. Then there is the DN-01’s confused DNA.
Is it a sport bike? Is it a cruiser?
Maybe those questions are moot, because the biggest strike
against the DN-01 is its $15,499 pricetag which, more than anything, will keep the DN-01 out of the hands of those who could
benefit from it most—beginning or returning riders. Experienced
riders with that kind of dough already have a myriad of more
focused choices on which to spend it, including Harley-Davidson Dynas, a BMW K1300S, several premium Ducati models or
just about every other Japanese motorcycle besides Honda’s own
Gold Wing and ST1300 ABS.
In the end, we are left with a healthy respect for what Honda
has accomplished with the DN-01. Whether or not it will revolutionize the marketplace remains to be seen. We only hope that
Honda finds a way to give us more than just a passing glimpse
of this technology in more affordable and focused models.
Visit us at WWW.MCNEWS.COM
●
JUNE 2009
13
Model Evaluation
Left: The DN-01’s 52°
V-twin has its roots in
the NT650 Hawk of
1968. The current
Euro-only XL700V
Transalp has it too,
but it’s retuned and
uses a conventional
gearbox. The DN-01
is tuned for low- and
mid-range power.
Below: View from the cockpit
shows the DN-01’s digital instrumentation, forward-mounted mirrors and minimalist windscreen.
Bottom: The DN-01’s passenger
seat is comfortable, but we would
opt for the accessory backrest from
Honda Genuine Accessories.
Above: The DN-01’s single shock is
made by Showa and controls the
single-sided Pro Arm swingarm
without the aid of rising rate linkage. The shock offers seven steps
of preload adjustability but does
not have any compression or
rebound damping adjusters.
Above: The heart of the DN-01 is not its engine, but
rather its Human Friendly Transmission, a maintenance-free (says Honda) fluid-power unit that provides the DN-01 with seamless shifting performance
and infinitely variable gear ratios when used in the
Drive or Sport modes. But it can also be shifted manually via a control on the left handlebar.
Right: The DN-01’s twin 296mm floating front brakes
feature three-piston calipers with ABS. Honda’s
Combined Braking System (CBS) links the front
brakes to the rear only when the rear brake pedal is
pressed. The front is independent ot the rear. Only
the center piston on each front caliper is activated by
the CBS. The outside pistons are controlled by the
front brake lever. The DN-01’s Showa 41mm forks
are non-adjustable.
TESTERS’ LOG
A little imagination is all that separates the obvious from the
obscure—my co-workers dismiss the noise our editorial printer
makes as mere mechanical clatter, while I can clearly make out the
opening bongo beat to the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for The Devil.
The same holds true for the Honda DN-01. Some might say its
$15,499 price tag is too expensive, its styling a collision between
a Bimota Mantra and an Interceptor underneath a rolling pin, or
that its slick-shifting HFT transmission system is a gimmick of
no value to “real” motorcyclists. I say Honda has shown real imagination by introducing what might well be the ideal drivetrain for
most of us, with the potential to satisfy a wide variety of riders
regardless of experience or riding preference. Unfortunately, the
first go-round of this new technology is cost prohibitive for the
masses. But like computers and cell phones, that could change
if Honda sticks with it, adapts it to more mainstream models and
increases cost efficiency through volume. If so, I look forward to
shelling out for version 2.0—say, a hot-rodded DN1100 V-twin in
an RC-51-derived chassis.
—Scott Rousseau
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JUNE 2009
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MOTORCYCLE CONSUMER NEWS
“It’s my fault, Dan Gurney’s gonna hate me” were my first
thoughts on seeing the DN-01. Perry King had loaned us his personal Alligator for testing back in December 2003, and Jon
Seidel, Honda’s PR rep, had come by for a lunch ride on the Ortega
Highway, our favorite test road. So, eager to share the fun of riding such an exciting concept, I let Jon try the Alligator.
When we returned the ’Gator to All-American Racers, Dan’s
shop in Santa Ana, I mentioned this fact, and Dan’s mood turned
dark. He’d been attempting to sell the concept to the big OEMs
apparently, and now I’d gone and given away his ideas for free. I
was sooo sorry. Now, after riding the DN-01, I’m not so worried.
The Honda is to an Alligator as a Saturn roadster is to an Indy
car. The DN-01 looks great although it’s not really a recumbent
motorcycle. But I also have to wonder if Honda is serious about
automatic transmissions or if they’re just padding their résumé
of engineering accomplishments. An automatic Gold Wing might
command a premium price, but do they really expect many
buyers to pay $15,499 for the DN-01?
—Dave Searle
2009 Honda DN-01
SPECIFICATIONS AND PERFORMANCE DATA
ENGINE
PERFORMANCE
Type:............ liquid-cooled 52° V-twin
Valvetrain:.... SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, screw and locknut valve adjustment
Displacement: ..........................680cc
Bore/stroke: ................81.0 x 66.0mm
Comp. ratio: ............................10.0:1
Fueling: ..................................PGM-FI
Exhaust:..................................2 into 1
Measured top speed ......113.1 mph
0–1/4 mile ..................15.41 sec.
@ 87.42 mph
0–60 mph ....................7.41 sec.
0–100 mph ..........................n/a
60–0 mph ........................124.0'
Power to Weight Ratio ......1:13.91
Speed @ 65 mph indicated......64.9
DRIVE TRAIN
MC RATING SYSTEM
Transmission: HFT hydromechanical
Final drive: ..................................shaft
RPM @ 65 mph*/rev limiter: ......4100 in
Drive mode; 5000 in Sport mode; 4150
in Manual mode/8000
*actual, not indicated
EXCELLENT
VERY GOOD
GOOD
FAIR
POOR
ERGONOMICS TEMPLATE
A
B
72.0"
56.6"
SUSPENSION
40.0"
D
E
63.75"
35.8"
27.25"
17.0"
31.75"
C
12.0"
Wheelbase: ................................63.2"
Rake/trail:............................28.5°/4.5"
Ground clearance: ......................5.25"
Seat height: ..............................27.25"
GVWR: ................................941.0 lbs.
Wet weight: ........................602.5 lbs.
Carrying capacity: ...............338.5 lbs.
40.0"
DIMENSIONS
A: nose to middle of
pass. seat. B: nose to
middle of rider seat.
C: nose to center of
grip D: nose to pass.
footpeg. E: nose to
rider footpeg
F: ground to center
of grip G: ground to
top of rider footpeg
H: ground to lowest
point of rider seat.
I: ground to top of
pass. footpeg.
J: ground to middle
of pass. seat.
:::::
–––Middleweight Cruiser–––
:::;.
Engine
:::::
:::::
Transmission
:::::
::::.
Suspension
:::::
::::.
Brakes
:::::
::::;
Handling
:::::
::::;
Ergonomics
:::::
::::.
Riding Impression
:::::
Instruments/Controls :::;.
:::::
::::;
Attention to Detail
:::::
::;..
Value
:::::
SAE CORRECTED REAR-WHEEL HORSEPOWER
SAE CORRECTED REAR-WHEEL TORQUE, LB. FT.
F
G HI J
::::.
OVERALL RATING
:::::
Front: ............ 41mm telescopic forks,
MISCELLANEOUS
non-adjustable, 4.2" travel
DYNAMOMETER DATA
Rear: ......Pro Arm w/ single shock, 7- Instruments: ......digital speedo, multi::::.
Low end
position adj. preload, 4.7" travel
43.15 hp
segment digital tach, odometer, 2
Mid-range ::::.
•
tripmeters,
gear
indicator,
clock,
sixBRAKES
::::.
Top
end
segment fuel gauge
•
Front: ....ABS with dual 320mm discs, Indicators: ...... water temp., hi-beam,
There isn’t much to comcheck engine, t/s, neutral, low oil,
four-piston calipers
plain about with regard to
33.60 lb.-ft.
the DN-01’s engine perABS warning, parking brake
Rear: ..............................220mm disc,
formance. The 680cc
single-piston caliper MSRP: ..................................$15,499
SOHC four-valve 52° VRoutine service interval:........4000 mi.
twin oozes character
TIRES & WHEELS
Valve adj. interval: ................8000 mi,
along with its linear
Warranty: 12 months, unlimited miles
power delivery. It doesn’t
Front:..........120/70 ZR17 Bridgestone
............Candy
Dark
Red,
Black
Colors:
have to post huge hp and
Battlax BT 021 on 3.50" x 17" wheel
torque numbers to be fun.
RPM, THOUSANDS
Rear: ..........190/50 ZR17 Bridgestone
Battlax BT 021 on 6.00" x 17" wheel
TEST NOTES
STANDARD MAINTENANCE
ELECTRICS
Time
Parts
Labor
PICKS
Item
Battery:..........................12 V, 11.2 Ah
: HFT transmission technology is exciting!
Oil & Filter ................0.3 ..........$60.20 ..........$24.00
Ignition:..............Digital transistorized
: Electric-smooth power delivery and nimble handling
Air Filter....................0.4 ..........$33.88 ..........$32.00
Alternator Output: .................... 449W
Valve Adjust..............2.5 ..............................$200.00
: Low seat height and ergonomics great for new riders
Headlight: ..............................55/55W
Battery Access ..........0.9 ............MF ..............$72.00
Final Drive ................0.3 ................................$24.00
PANS
FUEL
R/R Rear Whl. ..........1.0 ................................$80.00
: HFT transmission technology is expensive!
Tank capacity: ........................4.0 gal.
Change Plugs............0.3 ..........$11.90 ..........$24.00
: Riding position is unfriendly for freeway droning
Fuel grade: ..........................Premium
Synch EFI..................2.0 ..............................$160.00
: Overall, this motorcycle suffers from an identity crisis
High/low/avg. mpg: ......42.6/42.0/42.3
Totals
7.7
$105.98
$616.00
* MCN has changed the estimated labor rate to $80 starting March 2007
Visit us at WWW.MCNEWS.COM
●
JUNE 2009
15
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